PORT-AU-PRINCE (13 March 2017) – The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón, has concluded his eighth official mission to Haiti to monitor the human rights situation within the post-elections context.
The Independent Expert has stressed that the completion of the electoral process is a remarkable progress for the country. He praised “the transparency, professionalism and commitment of the Provisional Electoral Council, and the provisional government authorities in leading the elections.” Even though not enough, the Independent Expert has noted the election of a female senator as well as three female parliamentarians to the lower Chamber. He has also invited the authorities to intensify their efforts in continuing to promote the political participation of women.
Detention conditions in Haitian prisons are extremely inhuman, cruel and degrading, according to the Independent Expert. Long pre-trial detention, which amounts to an average of 70 per cent at national level, is among the main causes of prison overcrowding, which reaches a rate of 358 per cent, equivalent to 1.43 square meters per prisoner.
There are prisons where the situation is even worse. According to a study conducted in 2016 of the National. “It can be said that 91 per cent of all detainees in this prison who are awaiting trial are illegally or arbitrarily detained, which represents an increase of 23 per cent since 2014," Mr. Gallón said. The excessive level of overcrowding is also a factor, among others, that contributes to the high level of death in prison.
"If the current trend continues, projections for the year 2017 can result in the death of 229 prisoners, an annual mortality rate of 21.8 per 1,000," he said. The Independent Expert took note of the establishment of a new Presidential Commission to assess the situation in prisons and made an appeal to the authorities to implement urgent actions aimed at the abolition of prolonged pre-trial detention in order to improve prison conditions and to respect the rights of people deprived of their liberty.
Mr. Gallón has also invited the new Government to resume the 2010-2015 education plan, which foresaw the eradication of illiteracy in the country within five years.
The Independent Expert expressed concerns regarding the lack of progress of the trial of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s associates. "Necessary resources and support should be ensured by the judiciary and the government to guarantee the right to justice for serious crimes committed during the dictatorship, to adopt effective remedies to prevent any repetition of violations and to give society the opportunity to recover,” he said.
Mr. Gallón also reiterated his recommendations to set up a Truth, Justice and Reparation Commission to come to terms with past violations and a similar commission to provide remedies to the victims of cholera as a possible measure to be envisaged in the implementation of the new United Nations approach announced by the Secretary-General in December 2016.
The Independent Expert has called for efforts to continue to deal with the issue of people displaced following the 2010 earthquake, hurricane Matthew last year, and the expulsions of Haitians from the Dominican Republic. “The dialogue between the Haitian authorities and their Dominican counterparts should be strengthened to ensure the rights to nationality and identity of Haitian people and their descendants,” he said.
The Independent expert concluded by inviting Haitian society and the new administration to turn his recommendations into political decisions and to include them within the general policy statement that the Prime Minister will present to Parliament in the coming days, and into the budget that will be prepared next June.”
The Independent Expert will present his report to the Human Rights Council later this month on 21 March.
(*) Read the Independent Expert full end-of-mission statement (in French):
The Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Gustavo Gallón as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti in June 2013. Mr. Gallón has over 30 years of experience as a human rights defender and as university professor in public law and human rights. He was the Special Representative of the United Nations Human Rights Commission to Equatorial Guinea from 1999 to 2002. He is currently the director of the Colombian Commission of Jurists since its inception in 1988. Mr. Gallón is independent from any government and conducts his mandate in his sole individual capacity. To know more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/HT/Pages/IEHaiti.aspx
The independent experts are part of what is known as the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special procedures, the most important body of independent experts of the UN Human Rights System, is the general term applied to investigative and independent monitoring mechanisms of the Council that look into specific situations countries or thematic issues throughout the world. The experts of the special procedures work as volunteers; they are not part of the UN staff and they receive no salary for their work. They are independent of governments and organizations, and they exercise their functions independently
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